Trademarks for Entrepreneurs

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Messy Diapers: Why I Fight Frivolous Trademarks

Last updated on June 9th, 2020

Ever seen a toddler who actually wants to wear a messy diaper? As Dave Ramsey describes them, “Yeah, I know it’s messy, but it’s mine and it’s warm.”

Too many Merch and Etsy sellers are just like that toddler. 

See, there are twin, growing “messes” in the print-on-demand industry (POD): 

  • trademark trolling or overreach 
  • questionable trademarks

We’ve heard about questionable trademarks and how they are harming the industry. We know there’s a mess, and it’s getting bigger. But we want to play online doing fun stuff a couple of hours a day and watch all that passive income roll in. If things get messy around us someone else can clean it up.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

William James

It’s time for Merch and Etsy sellers to own the mess caused by questionable trademarks. Building a real business comes with real responsibilities. 

I don’t say that harshly. I had my own “head in the sand” attitude for the first six months or so that I heard about this problem: 

  • I’m too busy. Don’t you know how hard I’m working on my FBA business? 
  • I’ve barely had any Merch sales anyway — I’m a newbie, a nobody. No skin off my nose.
  • This only affects the big-time sellers. 
  • Don’t get me wrong — I’ll do my due diligence! I won’t infringe on someone else’s trademark! But there’s nothing I can do to stop them… or is there?

Finally, in February 2018, I saw Ken Reil “beating this drum” again. Ken’s presentation at a Merch workshop months earlier had helped me. For the first time, I saw this as an issue that affected someone who mattered, if only because they’d helped me. So when Ken announced his discovery of USPTO’s Letter of Protest system, I jumped into research mode.

I started on this journey to help Ken, and I continue it today to “pay it forward” in gratefulness to the many members of the Merch, Amazon, and Etsy communities who have helped me in my entrepreneur journey. Let’s clean up the mess!